In my 18 years of pastoring I have heard a lot of questions but there is no question as unsettling as an elderly believer who asks, "How do I know I am truly saved?" We always imagine our elders as having all the answers or of being sound in their faith but it seems that, at least some of them, can have as many doubts as teenagers. We all know that how we end our race is the most important part so it is important that we all enter the home stretch with a faith that is as strong as it was in our youth. Thankfully there is plenty of Scripture that answers this question if it is plaguing your mind. John writes:
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. (1 John 2:3)
John did not write this on a whim or because it was his personal mission statement. He wrote it because they are the words of our Lord:
"If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15)
Obedience is a demonstration of love or of fear. Jesus said that our obedience to his commands aught to be a design of our love for him. So, if we are doing what he told us to do, no matter if we fail a number of times, it is a good indication that we love our Lord. If obedience is the demonstration of love then you can guess what disobedience is a sign of:
The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4)
That should be plain enough for even the newest believer to understand. Plain and simple but also a catalyst for a lot of conviction this morning, I would guess. So many of us are merrily living our lives as we wish, singing along to the worship, fooling ourselves into believing that we are okay with Jesus. But the fact is we are living in direct opposition to what he commanded us to do. John writes:
But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. (1 John 2:5)
This is what impacted John, this thing called love, and yet for many of us it still remains a complete mystery, almost like something we fear to get to know. Love strips away all the lies, the hate, the pretenses, the protecting walls, and leaves us naked and vulnerable. It is through obedience to Jesus that the way is made possible for his love to be made complete in us. When we are in that place we will never have to ask the question, "Am I truly saved", because we will know every day we open our eyes.
Now here is the kicker, the thing that we should all be active doing:
This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (1 John 2:5-6)
It does not get any plainer than this. Do you really want to know if you are saved? Then look in the mirror. Do you see Jesus in what you are doing? James was correct when he said that true faith can be seen. True love is not hidden away, it shouts from the mountain top. If we are truly in Jesus then we cannot help but love people and do good towards everyone. If we are in Jesus then we understand the importance of loving our enemy. There would be nothing in us that would permit us to hate anyone. Jesus did not hate; he was filled with compassion. Are we filled with compassion? We need to be doing what Jesus did, living like Jesus lived if we are truly found in him.
Tomorrow we are going to consider one very clear indication of what John meant when he wrote:
But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him.